Pulse Sports takes you through Kenya's roller-coaster ride at the 2023 World Athletics Championships where women outshone men
The World Athletics Championships are one of the biggest sporting events that many athletes and their federations look forward to and Team Kenya is not an exception.
Kenya has been known to produce some of the best middle and long-distance runners and sprints are just picking up slowly, with Africa’s fastest man, Ferdinand Omanyala, setting the pace.
The 2023 World Athletics Championships saw Team Kenya finish fifth with a total of 10 medals. The United States of America led the standings, followed by Canada, Spain and Jamaica.
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Kenya bagged three gold medals, as many silver, and four bronze to take their medal tally to 10.
The 2023 edition saw Athletics Kenya send a formidable athlete, Ferdinand Omanyala, to compete in the men’s 100m race. Omanyala was looking quite fit in the heats and semi-final of the 100m but stumbled in the final.
He had a shaky start and ended up finishing seventh in the race. However, the Commonwealth Games champion has promised a better outing next season.
In the 800m, Athletics Kenya was sure that medals would be won since they had selected a number of athletes who looked very poised and comfortable to bring home medals.
In the women’s race, reigning Commonwealth Games champion Mary Moraa was the centre of attention since she was yet to lose a race going into the championship. Moraa stunned the world to become the third Kenyan woman to win a gold medal in the 800m at the global showpiece.
It was a hard-fought win for the Kenyan who clocked a Personal Best time of 1:56.03 to win the race. Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson finished second as defending champion Athing Mu of the USA completed the podium.
In the men’s race, all hopes rested on Emmanuel Wanyonyi owing to his great skills in the semi-final. The youngster did not disappoint, fighting hard for a win but was unfortunately forced to settle for second place behind Canada’s Marco Arop.
Wanyonyi would later revenge with a win at the Diamond League Meeting final held in Oregon, the USA.
In the women’s 1,500m race, Kenya already knew she had a medal courtesy of Faith Kipyegon who was just coming from a record-breaking spree and was looking very comfortable to defend her world title.
The double world record holder did not disappoint either as she controlled the race from the front and after kicking hard at the bell, she established daylight between herself and Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji with 200m remaining.
Sifan Hassan, meanwhile, had moved up into third place, overtaking Ciara Mageean, Laura Muir and Nelly Chepchirchir. But there was no catching Kipyegon as she moved away to win in 3:54.87.
Welteji took silver in 3:55.69, with Hassan earning bronze in 3:56.00.20-year-old Chepchirchir – who had impressed in the heats and semifinals – clocked a PB of 3:57.90 for fifth.
The men’s race, however, was a different show as no Kenyan won a medal. The first Kenyan to cross the finish line was Abel Kipsang who finished fourth.
Youngster Reynold Cheruiyot ended up finishing a disappointing eighth in the race while Timothy Cheruiyot, a once force to reckon with, was knocked out in the semi-final.
Kipyegon was doubling in the 1,500m and 5,000m and the world was not sure whether she would manage to also clinch the 5,000m title and she just proved them wrong.
She put up a good fight, shaking off competition from Hassan and the reigning world cross-country champion Beatrice Chebet, as she led a string of runners past her en route to her second gold in Budapest.
Kipyegon crossed the line in 14:53.88, becoming the first woman to win world gold over 1,500m and 5,000m at the same championships, with Hassan earning silver in 14:54.11 and Chebet adding bronze to her previous year’s silver in 14:54.33.
The men’s race was also different since Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen took top honours, successfully defending his title, with Mohammed Katir finishing second in the race. Jacob Krop finished third in the hotly contested race.
The women’s 10,000m was a tough race and Kenyans were shown dust. Hellen Obiri and Margaret Chelimo had finished second and third during last year’s edition of the race but this year, the script changed.
It was an Ethiopian-dominated race with Gudaf Tsegay taking the top prize, followed by her compatriot Letesenbet Gidey who finished second. Ejgayehu Taye, another Ethiopian, completed the podium.
Irine Kimais was the first Kenyan to cross the finish line in fourth, followed by Agnes Ng'etich and Grace Loibach who finished sixth and ninth respectively.
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The men’s race saw Daniel Simiu fight for a place on the podium, owing to the fact that this was his first World Championships and he wanted to leave a mark.
6) 400m Hurdles
Athletics Kenya also had a sole representative in the men’s 400m Hurdles, Wiseman Were, who failed to impress on the global stage. Were was knocked out in the semi-final and therefore could not proceed to the final of the race.
7) 3,000m Steeplechase
The women’s steeplechase in Kenya is just taking its shape and the world witnessed it in Budapest as Team Kenya took two medals.
The race was won by Kenyan-born Bahrain Winfred Yavi as world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech finished second with 19-year-old Faith Cherotich completing the podium.
The men’s race saw Abraham Kibiwott, the only Kenyan to make the podium after a third-place finish, behind champion Soufiane El Bakkali and Lamecha Girma.
Team Kenya did not shine in the marathon like during the past editions. Athletics Kenya had selected a formidable team to compete in the 42km distance but none was able to make it to the podium in both the men’s and women’s races.
In the men’s race, the first man to cross the finish line was Titus Kipruto who finished eighth. In the women’s race, the first woman to cross the finish line was Rosemary Wanjiru who finished sixth.
As has been the norm, Julius Yego was Kenya’s sole representative in the throws but he did not live up to the billing. Yego was knocked out in the qualification stage.